Fuelling for training, both on and off the bike, can seem like a dark art. But the truth is, cyclists can get caught up on the detail without truly nailing the basics. When we’re in heavy training, good fuelling isn’t just important in the saddle. We’re in recovery mode for much of the time, so our day-to-day eating habits become a critical factor in improving performance.

Fuelling for Cycling Performance - Pav Bryan

If you’re thinking about how to fuel for performance, the first thing to consider is whether you have the basics down.

Most of us have some dietry habits that don’t help recovery, so begin by really focusing on what you are eating and why. Ask yourself whether the next thing you’re going to eat will add recovery time or whether it will reduce it, this will help motivate you to make smart eating choices.

With all those expended calories, cyclists can usually afford the luxury of indulging more than your average person. Many a club run is focused on getting to the cafe stop, enjoying a gigantic slab of cake and swigging down a hot coffee to warm freezing extremeties. Enjoyment of culinary treats is embedded in cycling culture, but it’s what you eat inbetween cafe club runs that really counts.

Make this your mantra and you’ll be on the path to smarter fuelling: recovery will be optimised by not only how you replenish immediately after a session, but in your day-to-day nutrition habits.

Here are some tips to help you get the basics nailed:

  • Consider upping your daily intake of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Eating little & often can be beneficial. Not grazing, but not eating three huge meals either. Consider getting your daily requirements from 5–6 meals of approximately 500 calories each, but adjust this depending on your training load.
  • You should be eating a combination of quality carbohydrate, protein and good fats. Experiment with the ratio of each, as everyone is unique.
  • Consider your training periodization with your diet, for example, consider eating more fats when your training is low intensity and more carbohydrates when your training is harder.

Simply put, you can consider carbohydrates, protein and fats as the ‘petrol you put in your car’, but not all calories are created equal. The nutrients in your food will be the oil that makes it run smoothly. You can put the most expensive fuel in a Ferrari, but if you don’t put any oil in it, the engine will seize up!

I offer nutritional advice and guidance as part of programmes for clients, so if you have any questions or would like to find out more, get in touch. Also, check out my programme Nutritionally Fit for how this can help you.